The Future of the Past

And how race relations are involved


Reflecting on Monuments to Guide the Future

People are more divided over the use and placement of monuments than they are over most other historic and racial issues. This is more than just a local issue, so we focus on what is happening both across the state and country, and what the local viewpoints are.

How We Help

The Charleston Forum is holding panels that bring people together to talk about the public history landscape, statues, memorials, monuments, road names and more. People tend to view history differently, which informs their thoughts on what should happen to things like monuments and building names in the modern day.

Our goal is to come to a better understanding of how we view the past and how we regard figures in the future. It’s important to understand that the world and its people are constantly evolving over time. How we view something today, might not be the same in 100 years. So how can we change the way we honor figures who stand for causes, good or bad.

Our discussion focus on where decisions should come from. Should commissions make decisions? What should be added to the public landscape? And is it a good idea to add monuments that reflect current perspectives?

For good or bad, Charleston is a microcosm of the United States for race relations, especially being such an historic city. How we address things can be a model for other communities across the country.

The Charleston Forum aims to be a guide for other similar groups around the United States. Our representatives have spoken to other groups looking to make similar changes. We are often asked what our city is doing after the Mother Emanuel massacre. Through difficult discussion like this, we want to help other communities heal and prevent future tragedies.

What we do

Online Forum Resources


50 Videos



stories of change

Commentary: Will Charleston find its way to racial ‘hinge of history’?

The Charleston Forum has gained traction with its blunt insistence that the time is overdue for Charleston to confront and end the racial disparities that keep its black residents lagging far behind white ones.

The second annual forum on June 21 at the Charleston Music Hall drew an encouraging 650 people. They listened to speaker after speaker who detailed a litany of disparities: in education, housing, jobs, income and poverty, health, police-community relations, incarceration. “They’re terrible,” said an embarrassed but angrier Mayor John Tecklenburg.